New 3D-printed antiviral material could reduce COVID-19 spread

Researchers at Wolverhampton University have announced the development of an antiviral material which can be 3D printed and kills the COVID-19 virus.

antiviral material

The material is made from copper, silver and tungsten and was created using a selective laser melting (SLM) 3D printing technique, the team said. 

Drawing on its expertise in 3D printing microbial biomaterials, the university’s Additive Manufacturing Functional Materials (AMFM) research group wanted to investigate antiviral materials that could help to reduce airborne and surface-based virus transmission. 

Led by the university’s John Robinson, Dr Arun Arjunan and Dr Ahmad Baroutaji, the Wolverhampton researchers partnered with the Ángel Serrano-Aroca’s group from the Catholic University of Valencia’s Biomaterials and Bioengineering Lab for rapid material development and anti-Covid-19 viral analysis.

PhD researcher Robinson explained that with new variants emerging and a concern that a vaccine evasive strain could evolve, enhanced transmission control and prevention is essential. 

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Silver is known to have antimicrobial properties, however the cost can offer challenges for large-scale implementation, particularly regarding single-use products. Similarly, copper has been highlighted as having anti COVID-19 properties with the advantage of a lower cost compared to silver. 

Although limited, emerging research also suggests that tungsten has antimicrobial effects against common pathogens such as E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, the researchers explained, leading them to investigate a combination of the three elements to fabricate the novel material.

“Our antiviral material displayed a 100 per cent viral inactivation within five hours against a biologically-safe sample of COVID-19,” Robinson said. “This is a significant improvement on the previous copper coating results as all of the COVID-19 virus is eliminated.”

Robinson added that the team hopes the material could be used to build filtration systems and face mask filters, having already used the material and 3D printing technology to create proof-of-concept mask filters for an open-source 3D printed mask during the project.